Delta Takes Delivery of the First 242 Ton Airbus A330
Today, Delta Air Lines took delivery of the first ever Airbus A330-300 with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 242 tons. This improved variant of the A330, known as the "A330-300 242T", allows airlines to fly with higher payloads (more passengers & cargo) on longer routes more efficiently than ever before. The aircraft is also the platform for the A330NEO project, scheduled to enter commercial service later this decade. Delta is also the launch customer for that aircraft and has already ordered 25 of the type. Delta and Airbus celebrated the delivery with a ceremony at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France with members of the Delta "Chairman's Club", the airline's highest honor that an employee can receive. The aircraft will be on its way to Atlanta shortly and will be used on commercial flights within the next couple of months.This marks Delta's first new long-haul aircraft delivery since the merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008. An additional nine more of the aircraft will join Delta's fleet by 2017. The improved fuel efficiency and range will allow the airline to use the aircraft not only on transatlantic routes, but also on routes to Asia, which have traditionally relied on Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft. The new aircraft doesn't just have operational advantages, it is also great for the customers that will fly on it everyday. Business class will offer fully lie-flat beds with direct aisle access and the entire aircraft will have a state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system. The aircraft also features LED "mood" lighting and expanded overhead bins for luggage. While Delta has historically operated a mostly Boeing long-haul fleet, that definitely seems to be changing. The fleet became more diverse when Northwest's A330s joined the airline during the 2008 merger. Now it seems that a mostly Airbus long-haul fleet may be in the works. Delta's B757s, B767, and B747s are all nearing the end of their life and will most likely be retired within the next 10 years (probably much sooner than that). That leaves only the 18 Boeing 777-200s Delta currently operates and the 18 Boeing 787-8s that the airline has already ordered. The 787s are scheduled to enter service in 2020, but Delta has pushed that date back multiple times already. It is also possible to transfer those orders to another airline as demand for the aircraft is so high. Delta also shot down Boeing's proposal last year for more B777-200 aircraft as well as the B787-9. Instead, they chose to order 25 each of the Airbus A330NEO and A350-900XWB aircraft. Congrats to Delta and Airbus on the launch of what will surely be another hugely successful aircraft program!